Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel ruled that three anti-gay groups who oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples cannot intervene as parties in Pareto v. Ruvin, the lawsuit challenging Florida’s discriminatory marriage laws in the circuit court for Miami Dade County.
The groups include Florida Family Action, Inc. (FFAI), Florida Democratic League Inc. (FDL) and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, Inc. (PULSE)—organizations that support the discriminatory marriage laws at issue in the case.
Denying their request to be parties in the case, Judge Zabel found that these groups did not have a concrete legal interest in the case because they “will not be directly and immediately affected if others enter into a same-sex marriage, or are prevented from entering into a same-sex marriage.”
The court also noted that the “validity of their own marriages will not be affected,” adding that if these groups could enter the case as parties simply because they have strong beliefs about the issues in the case, “so would anyone who has a strongly held belief regarding the constitutionality of the Amendment and statutes at issue in this suit.”
“Judge Zabel reached the proper conclusion in denying extremists seeking a platform for their anti-gay rhetoric the right to intervene in this case,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida Institute, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “This lawsuit is about fundamental, constitutionally protected rights that are violated by a measure that does real harm to our families. We look forward to the day when Florida joins the 19 other states and the District of Columbia, where judges have come to the conclusion that such a ban is indefensible.”
On Wednesday, July 2, the fight for marriage equality in Florida will have its day in court. Judge Zabel will hear from attorneys who filed a lawsuit in January on behalf of six same-sex couples and Equality Florida Institute. The lawsuit argues that Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the United States Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides. The plaintiffs are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Mary B. Meeks, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).